Tag Archives: grizzly bears

It’s Public Comment Season In The P.N.W.: Sea Lions, Wolves, Grizzlies

Editor’s note: Since this blog was posted Monday, Oct. 28, WDFW has announced that the public scoping period for future wolf management planning will extend through 5 p.m. Nov. 15.

As one public comment period closed last week, two others important to Northwest sportsmen will end soon as well.

Tuesday, Oct. 29 is when commenting wraps up on a proposal by the three Northwest states and several tribes to remove California and Steller sea lions in an expanded part of the Lower Columbia watershed, while this Friday afternoon is when the scoping period for postrecovery wolf management planning ends in Washington.

SEA LIONS GATHER INSIDE THE MOUTH OF THE COWEEMAN RIVER AT KELSO, MOST LIKELY FOLLOWING THE 2016 RUN OF ESA-LISTED EULACHON, OR SMELT, UP THE COLUMBIA RIVER. (SKYLAR MASTERS)

Last Thursday saw the second comment period on plans to recover grizzly bears in the North Cascades wrap up following several well-attended meetings in the region.

Following passage of the Endangered Salmon Predation Prevention Act by Congress last winter, IDFG, ODFW, WDFW and the Nez Perce Tribe, Yakama Nation and other tribal partners in the Columbia Basin put in for a permit that would allow removals of sea lions in tributaries with listed salmon and steelhead runs, as well as in the Columbia from river mile 112, around Washougal, up to McNary Dam.

Currently, sea lions are only being taken out in the mainstem at Bonneville.

It’s not a ultimate cure-all for all the woes Chinook, coho, summer-runs and other stocks face — many other species chew on them and fish habitat has been radically altered — but already the ability to remove the marine mammals is showing results at Willamette Falls.

According to a Bill Monroe article in The Oregonian late last week, sea lion predation of winter steelhead and spring Chinook there has dropped by as much as 75 and 55 percent, respectively, since Oregon received a federal permit.

ODFW took out 33 last winter and spring, and that has greatly increased the odds that the ESA-listed steelhead stock will not go extinct, “probably to less than 10 percent,” according to the agency’s Dr. Shaun Clement, Monroe reported.

A SEA LION FLINGS A SALMONID AT WILLAMETTE FALLS. (ODFW)

To comment on the expanded program in the Columbia, go here by tomorrow.

As for Washington wolf management, 5 p.m. Nov. 1 is the deadline to register your thoughts as WDFW looks towards the next phase of the species’ recovery in the state.

There are two options, a scoping questionaire that asks for your age, sex, county of residence, whether you live in a rural, suburban or urban area, whether you identify as a hunter, livestock producer, outdoor recreationist or environmentalist, and a list to check off the topics most important to you in terms of wolf management.

That takes less than two minutes, but another option allows for more submitting more expansive thoughts.

A WDFW MAP SHOWS WHERE COMMENTS ON ITS PUBLIC SCOPING PERIOD ON FUTURE WASHINGTON WOLF MANAGEMENT WERE COMING FROM, AS OF OCT. 17, 2019. (WDFW)

When the Fish and Wildlife Commission met a week and a half ago, wolf managers updated them on how the scoping process was going through Oct. 17, and wolf hunting and wolf-livestock conflicts were the two most important topics among respondents, followed by wolf conservation and monitoring.

Translocation — moving nonproblem wolves from one part of the state to others — was the least important.

Rural residents and outdoor recreationists have been among those participating in the survey in the highest numbers.

Don’t believe your voice counts in public comment?

With WDFW proposing a blanket elimination of daily and size limits on bass, walleye and channel catfish in 146 lakes across Washington (most don’t have the latter two species, but the first are widespread), testimony heard by the Fish and Wildlife Commission at their October meeting had the citizen panel pushing back and asking for a more refined proposal from fishery managers as the state agency tries to follow a legislative directive to provide more forage fish for orcas.

North Cascades Grizzly Planning ‘Indefinitely On Hold’; CNW ‘Extremely Disappointed’

Grizzly bears may not be returning to the North Cascades any time soon after all — at least through federal efforts.

Plans to restore the big bruins in the mountainous region of Washington are “indefinitely on hold” after national park service officials were “asked to stop work on its environmental impact statement by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s office.”

A MAP FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES SHOWS THE NORTH CASCADES ECOSYSTEM WHERE WILDLIFE OFFICIALS WERE MULLING RESTORING GRIZZLY BEAR POPULATIONS, A PLAN THAT REPORTEDLY HAS BEEN HALTED AT THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF THE US DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR. (NPS)

That’s according to reports by the Yakima Herald and The Missoulian in recent days.

The story was broken by the latter paper and it follows on a long-term push to consider restoring grizzlies in their former habitat.

The EIS, which went out last January for comment, garnered 127,000 responses from the public. Alternatives ranged from no action to fast-tracking the relocation of bears to build a self-sustaining population of 200 in the region north of I-90.

“When residents and stakeholders express opposition to proposals to reintroduce grizzly bears in the North Cascades Ecosystem, the federal government must listen,” Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4), who represents the northeastern side of the region, recently told the Herald.

The news was not taken well by Conservation Northwest, which has strongly supported the effort.

“We are extremely disappointed that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration are abandoning North Cascades grizzly bears, siding with the local extinction of this iconic native species over the strong majority of Washingtonians who support their recovery,” said Chase Gunnell, the Seattle-based organization’s communications director. “Equally frustrating is that the many years of science and public education and significant taxpayer dollars that have gone into grizzly bear recovery in our region are not being taken seriously by this administration.”

According to the reports, the move also “stalls discussions” with wildlife managers on the other side of the international border.

Grizzly populations in southern British Columbia are said to be in a contracting rather than expanding phase, making it reportedly less likely for them to roam into Washington on their own like wolves. This morning the provincial government banned hunting the bears, a “major policy shift.”